District 214 Education Foundation Presents:

12 Days of Giving

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+ Day 1: Cardinal Fund

Jayde Ficks is a Wheeling High School graduate with a dream: to become the first in her family to complete a college degree. Her vision is fueled by the reality of college credits she received before she even left high school, earned through rigorous Advanced Placement tests. Those credits, she knows, will give her the head start she needs, and a better chance at success.

Those tests were funded by donors with a commitment to empowering postsecondary dreams.

The District 214 Education Foundation's Cardinal Fund provides the opportunity for alumni, businesses and community members to build success stories like hers. Named for the mascot of District 214's first high school, the Cardinal Endowment builds on Arlington High's legacy of success and looks toward the future, funding Advanced Placement tests for students who have completed AP coursework but cannot afford the cost of the AP test, which opens up opportunities for early college credit.

A gift of $100 funds one exam. That $100, combined with a student's potential, can turn into thousands of dollars in college credit and fuel dreams. The need exists at every school in District 214.

In 2017, donor contributions for AP tests empowered an estimated $250,000 in college credits.

The Fund also covers other costs critical to student futures, including career credentials in areas like healthcare, manufacturing and IT that ensure students are poised for success as they leave school. The credentials cost between $50 and $300 -- an overwhelming price to pay for many families.

"Advanced placement exams were a way for me to gather enough college credit while in high school that I was able to attain a double bachelor of science degree in three years," says Yev Kozachuk, a Cardinal Fund donor who leads the Foundation’s Major Gifts Committee. "Coming from a lower-income family, it was not easy to afford those testing fees. However, the investment of that money saved tens of thousands of dollars in tuition costs and allowed me to start earning a substantial salary two years earlier than planned. I want every student to be able to have the same opportunity that I did."

To join Yev and others in building a lasting legacy through the Cardinal Fund, click HERE.

+ Day 2: 1st Generation Students + Trips

The Foundation has introduced more than 300 first-generation students and parents to four-year campuses for the first time, showcasing new opportunities for success to students who will become the first in their family to attend college. These trips have included interaction with District 214 alumni who now attend the colleges, on-bus programming from District 214 college counselors, and tours.

“Thanks to the help of the District 214 Foundation, now we know that a first-generation student has endless possibilities,” said Teresa Brzezicki the mother of a John Hersey High School student who participated in a Foundation-funded college visit. “With hard work and perseverance, they may successfully achieve an education in the United States.”

To further this initiative, the Education Foundation is launching the Next-Generation Pathway to Completion, which will provide targeted programming through junior and senior year for selected cohorts of first-generation students, and also support them and their parents through four years of college. That college support will be provided by District 214 alumni prepared to help others succeed.

A gift of $3,000 will fund a college visit for 100 students and parents; a gift of $1,500 will sponsor a scholarship for a student in the new cohort for one year. Gifts of any amount will contribute significantly toward building dreams. .

To join our donors in supporting the next-generation, click [HERE]. 214foundation.org/donate.

+ Day 3: Mini Grant Allocations

The District 214 Education Foundation has awarded more than $22,000 this year toward innovative classroom initiatives and transformational projects created by educators. An additional $40,000 was awarded in previous years. These grants support student learning District-wide.

In a time when one in four students lives in poverty, the Foundation ensures every student has access to innovative curriculum, opportunities for success and basic needs that lead to brighter tomorrows.

New opportunities for special education students, resources for those whose families are struggling financially, guest speakers in the fine and performing arts, a business start-up and equipment for a podcast studio are among the awarded grant initiatives funded by the Foundation this fall.

"I was truly humbled by the level of support for this project," said Sindi Smith, whose idea to create a Comfort Closet for Buffalo Grove High School students stocked with shampoo and other toiletries was among 2018’s funded projects. With the growing rate of poverty she said, "teachers hear about the struggles these kids face at home just getting food on the table. I hope to alleviate one of the stressors that could negatively impact their self-esteem and productivity."

To join us as we support our teachers and our students, click HERE.

+ Day 4: Other Ways to Give: Time

Financial gifts aren’t the only way to support the District 214 Education Foundation.

A significant contribution comes to us annually through volunteers who generally give their time. These volunteers head up committees, solicit raffle donations, help us in thanking donors, and plan and staff special events, from fundraisers and advocacy-building initiatives to alumni reunions.

A gift of time is invaluable, as it helps the Foundation advance our mission of student success.

We would love to have you be part of our community of change. You can give back in a way that is meaningful to you and plays on your own strengths -- from helping with website design and content and strategizing social media posts to joining an event-planning committee or making phone calls. There also are opportunities to help by speaking in a classroom, mentoring students in areas like our entrepreneurship classrooms, or hosting a student intern in your business. And that’s only the start.

To support the Foundation through a gift of time, please contact Brooke Snell, brooke.snell@d214.org.

+ Day 5: Scholarships

Together, District 214 Education Foundation donors have launched more than $300,000 in new scholarships in the last four years, empowering students' postsecondary and high school success.

These scholarships support and reward areas meaningful to the donors -- from STEM education and females entering the profession of law to aquatics, athletics, school spirit and a willingness to give back.

“I appreciate this selfless act of kindness,” a 2018 scholarship recipient shared, urging donors and others in the community to continue giving back to life up “the rest of the students in the future.”

The annual Redefining Ready! scholarship, a Foundation-created award, annually awards $5,000 to graduating seniors demonstrating college, career and life readiness beyond a test score. The Twitter-based scholarship showcases their creativity and genuine journey through high school.

Scholarships can be created for as little as $2,500, payable over five years. They can be endowed at higher levels, ensuring your gift will benefit students far into perpetuity. To discuss a new scholarship, contact Brooke Snell, the Foundation's Development Coordinator, at brooke.snell@d214.org.

+ Day 6: Career Pathways

District 214’s robust and nationally recognized Career Pathways program provides students opportunities to explore careers through rigorous coursework, early college credit, workplace learning experiences and industry credentials -- ensuring they are prepared for success after they leave high school.

The District offers nearly four dozen targeted programs of study across 16 nationally recognized career clusters, from healthcare and IT to education, business and STEM. District 214 students annually complete tens of thousands of early college credits, and have logged 2 million internship hours.

The District 214 Education Foundation partners with businesses, community members, parents, alumni and staff to support student success, innovation and lifelong learning through these pathways, beyond the limitations of conventional funding for public education. This funding can bolster capital enhancements for pathway programs; fund apprenticeship opportunities and new equipment; create innovative learning opportunities; bring in classroom speakers; and allow for pathway expansion.

Gifts can be made through sponsorships, named programs or facilities, direct financial contributions, memorial or honorary contributions, bequests and more, in a way that directly aligns with your vision or your business’ mission and meaningfully connects you to our pathways and schools.

To discuss Pathway funding opportunities, contact Brooke Snell, the Foundation's Development Coordinator, at brooke.snell@d214.org.

+ Day 7: Legacy Society

Suzanne Sharer is an Arlington High School graduate, a proud District 214 retiree, a lifelong Arlington Heights resident and an active volunteer with the District 214 Education Foundation.

She's also building a legacy.

Through a bequest in her will, Suzanne and her husband, Steve -- a regular at the Foundation's Golf Open -- recently became the inaugural members of the Foundation's Legacy Society, building the promise of future funding for success.

"This District has given so much to me," Suzanne said. "This was such a wonderful way to give back. It made sense. I am able to make a pledge now that will help District 214's future."

The Legacy Society empowers individuals to include gifts to the Foundation in a will or trust. Bequests can be unrestricted, or directed to a specific purpose. Benefits of this type of giving are numerous. Your assets remain in your control during your lifetime; you can modify your gift at any point; you can direct your gift to an area that is particularly meaningful to you; and, under current tax law, there is no upper limit on the estate tax deduction for your charitable bequests.

To learn more, contact the Foundation Office at 847-718-7699. If you already have included the Foundation in your will, please let us know. You also may email contact Brooke Snell, the Foundation's Development Coordinator, at brooke.snell@d214.org.

+ Day 8: Employee Giving

In the last year, the District 214 Education Foundation has empowered hundreds of thousands of dollars in early college credit though the funding of Advanced Placement exams, brought more than 150 first-generation students and parents to college campuses, provided breakfasts for in-need students, launched scholarships and success funds that bolster student success in high school and beyond, provided more than $30,000 to our educators for innovative learning opportunities, and funded adult and family literacy programming that literally transforms generations in our community.

This fall, the District 214 staff contributed nearly $50,000 to that mission through the annual Employee Giving Campaign, which encourages educators throughout the District to give back.

The 2018 campaign marked a 100 percent increase in participation from employees over last year and a 50 percent increase in dollars donated and pledged -- a vote of confidence in the Foundation’s work.

The campaign also featured significant creativity, including an original song about giving and a lip dub created by Elizabeth Bennett, Employee Giving Liaison at Buffalo Grove High School, and a student.

“We never know when someone may be in need, or when we may find ourselves in need” said Elizabeth Bennett. “There are those programs and innovative ideas that need just a bit more financial help to happen... these are the things the Foundation does - helps these needs.”

To join the movement to fund the future, contact the Foundation Office at 847-718-7708 or via email at foundation@d214.org.

+ Day 9: Community Engagement

The Foundation annually supports integral District-provided programming that transforms generations through Community Education. This includes adult and family literacy courses featuring Read to Learn which aims to help others improve their reading and writing skills, GED courses and classes at the Catherine M. Lee Women's and Children's Program at Forest View Educational Center.

The Catherine M. Lee Women's & Children's Center helps female immigrants gain skills in speaking, listening, reading, and writing English in order to increase their skills for gaining employment and helping their children succeed in school. Children ages 5 and under are welcome to attend early childhood education classes while their mothers attend adult classes.

“The Women’s and Children’s Center is a place where women can prepare for their and their children’s future,” former student Rosa Patino said.

The Foundation will host a benefit and advocacy breakfast in support of the Center specifically this spring. To provide support to adult education and family literacy initiatives or to learn more, contact the Foundation Office at 847-718-7699. You also may email contact Brooke Snell, the Foundation's Development Coordinator, at brooke.snell@d214.org.

+ Day 10: Alumni Giving

Our alumni are some of our greatest ambassadors. In a 2014 survey, our alumni told us one thing resoundingly: They love District 214. They want to get involved because they were influenced by their high school experiences. Many times, they can name at least one District 214 educator who positively influenced your life.

In 2016, District 214 launched the Alumni Advisory Council to foster relationships between alumni and the District and create new ways for us to work together and talk together. Through the Council, we offer fun, social and networking opportunities through our quarterly events. We encourage alumni to give back by speaking in classrooms, serving as mentors or coaches in specific career pathways or speaking at career nights. To become involved and to learn more, fill out this Google Form.

Many alumni also have become donors to the Foundation. Among them is Dr. Carla Koretsky, who, with her Wheeling High School classmates, started a monetary challenge to raise $30,000 by their 30th reunion. “Many of us had an exceptional experience at Wheeling High School, both in and out of the classroom, and many have had very successful careers. We want to give back now and help other students have the means to get the same education and experience we did,” says Koretsky, now Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Western Michigan University.

To learn more about our alumni initiatives or consider a financial contribution, contact Brooke Snell in the Foundation, brooke.snell@d214.org or (847) 718-7699.

+ Day 11: StartUp Showcase

High School District 214’s Entrepreneurship Program engages students in the everyday business of creating ideas and building companies. Launched in all six comprehensive high schools, it relies on the expertise of local partners with professional roots in a variety of areas – from marketing and branding to finance and business development – who co-teach alongside District 214 teachers to deliver relevant entrepreneurship education. Working in teams as they would in a real business setting, students solve problems and develop solutions.

Startup Showcase is the culmination of a year of critical thinking, collaboration and inspiration. It allows the top group at every school – determined through school-based competitions – to pitch their idea to a team of judges for a shot at a financial award. The Foundation annually supports student entrepreneurs through funding awarded at a District-wide pitch night, to further their post-secondary plans.

Students who have showcased their business at this event have gone on to achieve great success: being featured on The Today Show, winning deals on Shark Tank and raising thousands on Kickstarter.

The Foundation annually provides seed funding to the winning Startup Showcase business, and, more broadly, offers sponsorship opportunities for the Showcase and the broader event of which it is a part: the Future Ready Showcase, which includes exhibitions from students studying a variety of areas.

To support our Entrepreneurs and future business leaders, or to become a sponsor of the Future Ready event, please contact the Foundation Office at 847-718-7708 or via email at foundation@d214.org.

+ Day 12: Sponsorship/Namings

This past winter, our Foundation worked with Wheeling High School to secure a $150,000 sponsorship from HydraForce, a Lincolnshire-based business, to create a state-of-the-art robotics engineering curriculum. This sponsorship allows robotics education to remain on the cutting edge, preparing students for real 21st century jobs that technology is rare in American public education.

Individuals can have this same impact.

Our Foundation can work with you to name a program, career pathway, initiative or facility in honor an influential educator, loved one or friend through the naming of a classroom, program or other facility. Businesses also have the opportunity to sponsor programs, initiatives, career pathways and facilities to give back philanthropically to District 214. Restricted funds, such as these, provide the opportunity to give significantly to an area of specific need at the school or District level, through conversations with the Foundation. Restricted funds, namings and sponsorships are available at varying levels.

Build the legacy. Fund the future.

To discuss opportunities for namings, advertising or corporate sponsorships, contact Erin Brooks, Foundation Executive Director, at (847) 718-7688 or erin.brooks@d214.org.